Gold standard for next year's film festival
WITH the 2016 Heart of Gold International Film Festival coming to a close last weekend, audiences and staff members alike are declaring this year's instalment the best yet.
The arrival of new artistic director Emily Avila was described by many on staff as a boon to the festival, with a revitalised program bringing impressive audience numbers throughout the four days.
"One thing that really took me by surprise was Friday's session," Ms Avila said between sessions on Saturday afternoon.
"It had felt very mellow throughout the whole day, and when we looked back over the numbers we had done far better than we'd initially thought."
The efforts of volunteers who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend was also praised, with staff acknowledging the event couldn't have gone ahead without them.
"It's really gratifying to see how the community was brought together here by this amazing film festival," Heart of Gold chair Claudia Granshaw says.
"They are the driving force of this event."
Saturday night saw crowds fill the Heritage Theatre for the festival's awards night, with a bevy of Australian talent sweeping the competition.
Despite solid competition from films around the world, jurors and audiences chose to celebrate local talent, with Australian films sweeping categories at the Heart of Gold Festival awards night.
Lucy Gaffy's Dream Baby took out the top prize for best film, with its charming and heartbreaking story winning over audiences.
However, the big winner of the evening was Will Goodfellow's The Spa taking out three awards during the evening.
Closer to home, Gympie-born filmmaker Floss Adams took out the Younger at Heart award for her effort - the experimental film Persistence of Time.
Festival organisers are already looking toward next year's event - the 10th time Heart of Gold has run in Gympie.
"The Heart of Gold Festival is so unique - for Australia and for the world," Ms Avila says.
"Not only for its mission, but for its spirit as well."